Emergency Relief (April 12, 2020)

Good Sunday Morning!

Happy Easter! Happy Passover! Chag Pesach Sameach!

On Good Friday, a day when I would normally shut off my email and phone, committing to quiet contemplation and fasting, I packed my suitcase for the first time in weeks and headed back to Ottawa.

For the first time ever, I wore a mask and had Lysol wipes in my carry on. And, in another first, a government plane picked me up from the runway next to Viking Air in back of the Victoria airport. Thanks to an impulse of extraordinary thoughtfulness, (and I do not know who of many possible candidates is my guardian angel), I had a call from the Prime Minister’s Office late Thursday that I could cancel my Air Canada flights.

I had been feeling so nervous about changing flights and going through three major airports. PMO offered that the government plane bringing Liberal Cabinet minister Carla Qualtrough from Vancouver could divert to Sidney to pick me up. We stopped in Regina to pick up Andrew and Jill Scheer and their five children – and off to Ottawa. A round trip, including the late flight back as soon as the House adjourned- without the Scheers who stayed in Ottawa.

The last time I had set foot in Parliament was one month ago when we agreed to adjourn. On March 24th when Parliament reconvened into over-time hours to pass the COVID19 response bill, C-13, Green MP Jenica Atwin was able to drive to Ottawa from Fredericton. This time, she was restricted by New Brunswick rules for self-isolation, so it was my turn.

Late Monday afternoon, we received the embargoed copy of the new bill - expanding and revising the wage subsidy section of C-13. When Jenica had spoken to the bill back in the wee hours of March 25th, she had spoken for our Green position that the wage subsidy be boosted from its initial 10% to 75%. Bill C-14 will do that.

Yet, in the many anguished calls and emails I receive from constituents and others across Canada, we know that for many small businesses, the ones where the owner works for free hoping for enough profit to keep going to pay their staff, nothing in place so far will keep them afloat. I have been pushing for help for small business. That’s why I was pleased that in the consent motion that went along with the bill:

“ government implement, in the short-term, support measures for Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), which will be partially non-refundable, with the primary objective of maintaining jobs and reducing debt related to fixed costs, while maintaining access to liquidity in the form of loans …”

It is not enough for small business, and we have to find ways to reduce the threat of bankruptcy to many of Canada’s best employers.

As well as addressing the many gaps in the emergency relief benefits for average Canadians:

« government implement measures to address gaps in the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or other programs, existing or proposed, to address students, owner/operators, those who continue to receive a modest income from part-time work, royalties and honoraria for volunteer Emergency service. In addition, the government will work to ensure essential workers who receive low wages will receive additional income support during this time of crisis... »

English YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvWruJBvz1U

French YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP2hfIaWQTc

And in other real-life COVID19 news, I picked up a real score at our Ottawa apartment - toilet paper! What a world.

Stay safe. Stay well.

Elizabeth

PS You might enjoy this article I wrote in Policy magazine: All Hands on Deck for Nature vs. Technology.

Upcoming opportunities to gather by phone or zoom:

For SGI constituents:

April 15: Saanich-Gulf Islands Telephone Town Hall: call 250-657-2000 or email Elizabeth.may@parl.gc.ca to get the information to phone in.

For Green Party members:

April 14: Green Party Caucus Town Hall by zoom- English language

April 16: Green Party Caucus Town Hall by zoom – French language

 


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